Alert from Pope Francis in Greece: “Today, not only in Europe, there is a decline in democracy”

ROME.- From Greece, cradle of civilization, of the “polis”, of the great philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle and of the Odyssey, the dad francisco informed today that democracy “is in decline” and not only in Europe. Concerned about “democratic skepticism”, He condemned rising populism and authoritarianism in many parts of the world and called for a “renewed humanism”.

“We cannot fail to note with concern how much today, and not only on the European continent, we are witnessing a decline in democracy. This requires everyone’s participation and involvement and therefore requires effort and patience; democracy is complex, while authoritarianism is expeditious and the easy promises offered by populism are seductive,” warned the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, in a speech delivered at the presidential palace in Athens, capital of Greece, where he arrived before noon after a one-hour flight from the island of Cyprusfirst leg of his tour.

Pope Francis delivers a speech during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, Saturday, December 4, 2021.Dimtiris Papamitsos – Office of the Greek Prime Minister

“In various societies, security-conscious and anesthetized by consumerism, fatigue and discomfort lead to a kind of “democratic skepticism” Francis also warned, recalling the fundamental requirement of “the participation of all”. He underlined the importance of “good policy” and the urgency to pass”from partisanship to participation.

He listened to him at his side the first president of Greece, Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, that in January last year she became the first woman to hold this position and received the pope with full honours.

Francis is the second maximum head of the Catholic Church officially received in Athens after Saint Francis. John Paul II, who was the first pontiff to visit this predominantly Orthodox country 20 years ago. Then, as part of the Jubilee of the year 2000, the Polish Pontiff apologized for the sack of Constantinople by the crusaders.

Francisco did something similar during his afternoon meeting with His Beatitude Jerome II, highest leader of the Orthodox Church, with someone who visited the island of Lesvos in 2016. “History has its weight and today here I feel the need to renew the request for forgiveness to God and to the brothers for the faults committed by so many Catholics“said Francis, during a meeting at the Orthodox Cathedral of San Dionysius marked by great harmony between the two religious leaders.

Pope Francis is received by the Archbishop of Athens and Head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Jerome II
Pope Francis is received by the Archbishop of Athens and Head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Jerome IIAndreas Solaro – AFP POOL

Francis also had obviously friendly gestures with President Sakellaropoulou, who during the welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace thanked the pontiff for the visit, which takes place within the framework of the bicentenary of Greece’s independence from the “yoke Ottoman”, as he pointed out, and in which Francis will travel tomorrow for the second time to the island of Lesbos, symbol of the drama of migrants. In this regard, he recalled how the Argentine pope, who in 2016 took three families of Syrian refugees on his plane, always recognized “the humanity of the Greeks, as well as the disproportionate weight they carried” on this issue. .

In another reflection of the regional tensions with Turkey already palpable in Cyprus, in his speech The president thanked the pope for his “warm” support so that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to turn into a mosque, “remain an ecumenical symbol of religious worship and an emblematic monument of world heritage, accessible to all”.

Regarding the refugee crisis, the central theme of the tour and of his pontificate, the pope once again had harsh words. “The European Community, torn apart by nationalist selfishness, rather than being a train of solidarity, sometimes appears blocked and uncoordinated”, mentioned.

“If at one time the ideological contrasts prevented the construction of bridges between the east and the west of the continent, today the migration issue has also opened up breaches between the south and the north. I would like to insist once again on a common and community vision of the migration issue and encourage the attention given to the most deprived so that, according to the possibilities of each country, they are welcomed, protected, promoted and fully integrated respect for their rights human beings and their dignity,” he asked, before an audience in which center-right Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsokatis stood out, with whom he had previously held a meeting, among other authorities and representatives of society. civilian of the Hellenic country.

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a meeting with authorities at the Presidential Palace in Athens.
Pope Francis delivers his speech during a meeting with authorities at the Presidential Palace in Athens.Alessandra Tarantino – AP

The pope, who also spoke about the pandemic that hit Greece, a country still trying to recover from a terrible debt crisis, as well as the fires that devastated much of its territory last summer in because of climate change, underlined throughout his speech the history of this country of just over 10 million inhabitants. Without Athens and without Greece, Europe and the world would not be what they are: they would be less wise and less happy. he claimed.

In the end, in a message addressed not only to this country, he called for openness, inclusion and justice. And he exhorted to respond “to the seductions of authoritarianism through democracy”, “to individualistic indifference, to concern for the other, for the poor and for creation”, which he considered to be the “essential pillars of ‘a renewed humanism, which is what they need of our time and of our Europe’.

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